We originally planned to stay in Kosi Bay for two nights and just skip Ponto d’ Ouro but based on the awesome stories we were getting from other travelers – we diverted our plans to Ponta!
We did stop for one night in Kosi Bay to camp at Kosi Bay Casitas. The campsite was pretty crappy and we didn’t see much to spark our interest in the area.…which further affirmed our desire to immediately move on to Mozambique. This was probably for the best because we found out riots were happening in the area. We even passed a “riot tank” as we left town which was heading off to squash the “toy toying”. Locals were protesting the recent upsurge in car jackings. In the past these had only targeted whites but were now targeting locals – and they were NOT happy!
I have heard many horror stories about the border crossing into Mozambique. People have said you can be stuck there for a whole day! Mozambique requires extra steps like purchasing local vehicle insurance at the border and you also have to get a visa made complete with a photos and fingerprints. Moz has many more regulations such as not being able to bring meat or alcohol into the country. We have heard of people being required to removed every single item from their car to be searched. The thought of this terrified us because the Landy is packed soo full and contains many contraband items!
When we arrived at the border it was almost completely empty. It was a Saturday afternoon so I guess that is not a busy time. We were greeted by friendly officials who spoke surprisingly good English. They ushered us along through the steps without hassle. The customs officer who should have searched our car, just asked us where we were going and was really shocked when we said we were driving the whole coast to Pemba. He got excited and told us we should visit a huge graphite mine up north and then waved us past!
It was then that we realized the border was the easy part – the hard part was going to be getting through the rough deep sand roads that start at the border for 8k until you reach Ponta D’Ouro. We started bounding down the deeply tracked out sand roads which split off in numerous different directions. At first it was confusing to figure out where we were supposed to go. We soon realized they all lead to the same place, just with varying levels of elevation, softness of sand and other hazards.
This was our first trial run of the defender on deep sand (since we first visited Khutse and got her stuck). Amazingly she did great! Just a few struggles on some of the steeper hills but that is to be expected.
We were so happy when we finally reached the town. I was really surprised at how tiny it was. There was really just one main strip of small shops and restaurants that lead up to the beach.
We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay so we drove around to a look for a spot. We were shocked that so many places were closed! Apparently Feb is so slow that placed close down after the busy holiday season. After visiting multiple camps and lodges we settled on Ponta Beach Camp which was located right next to the beach.
We camped for the first night, and although we were greeted by an incredible sunset our night was miserable. It was so stuffy inside the tent and mosquitos were swarming us so much that it was impossible to sleep. The campsite ablutions were also kind of crummy. It started pouring in the morning so we took it as a sign to upgrade to a beach bungalow – and it was an excellent decision!
For 40$ a night we got a super cute beach front hut with a front porch that gave us the perfect view of Ponta d’Ouro’s namesake point. No AC but at least they had a fan and an ensuite bathroom.
We spent our time in Ponta diving with Gozo Azul. They were a great company and we were impressed with the skill of our guide Toby. He was amazing at spotting teeny tiny things like whipcoral shrimps, squat shrimps, pipefish and ghost crabs. The weather was not cooperative so we were not able to do the dive sites we had hoped for and we could only do two dives.
The weather was supposed to get worse and prevent diving for the following days so we decided to head north to Tofo. I wish we could have done some of the deeper dives because they had been seeing bull sharks and hammerheads around the Pinnacles site recently! Although bull sharks are known to be the most dangerous and unpredictable of all sharks – we really want to see them!
The town of Ponta was super cute. A sleepy small beach town which was effectively empty when we were there. But it was easy to visualize how packed it could get in the high season. Ponta has always been a holiday playground for South Africans who pour over the border during holidays. Not many people from Moz visit Ponta because it is closer to SA than it is to the major cities to the north. Also the roads are so bad that it limits accessibility to people who have a good 4×4 or can pay for transport. However, that is all going to change because the long awaited construction of a tar road connecting Ponta to Maputo is nearly completed. This is going to be a game changer which locals say will ruin the small town vibe. They expect that wealthy Maputo locals will now buy up property in Ponta and flood the town on holidays and weekends.
We were quite pleased to be able to benefit from the new road on our way to Maputo. It would have been a huge pain to spend 6 hours fighting the deep sand roads on our way north.
There were only a few restaurants in Ponta but all had great choices for seafood. The locals bars that were pretty lively at night and I bet lots of fun when the town is more full. We really enjoyed the Love Cafe which was brightly decorated in local fabrics and played awesome tunes. They make great thin crust pizzas too!
I would say the diving in Ponta was better than the northern Maputaland coast of South Africa, but not as good as Tofo. An ideal diving trip to Moz would include Tofo and Ponta!